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Ben Neutze

Ben Neutze

Ben Neutze is Time Out's former Australia Arts & Culture Editor.

Articles (52)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a gay love story, don't @ me

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a gay love story, don't @ me

Since it opened on London’s West End, audiences at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child have been encouraged to #KeepTheSecrets. It’s both a clever marketing strategy – making it clear that the show is full of magic, plot twists and secrets worth keeping – and a genuine desire to protect audience members from having the show’s biggest surprises revealed. But just like Moaning Myrtle – arguably the original messy bitch who lives for drama – we couldn’t keep a secret if our lives depended on it. So beware that this article contains spoilers. Not major spoilers, but if you want to go in as a completely blank slate, turn around right now. Because the biggest secret being kept inside the Princess Theatre is the secret love that the play’s two young protagonists – Albus Severus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy – have for one another. We are not the first people to notice this, and certainly weren’t the only ones talking about it at this weekend’s opening gala. This is the Potterverse relationship you’ll ship harder than Harry and Hermione (come on, you know Ron was a mistake). Here’s the basic premise of the play: Nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry and Ginny’s youngest son, Albus, is heading to Hogwarts. At the same time Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius, is hopping on the Hogwarts Express. The pair find themselves together in a cabin – the same place where Harry, Ron and Hermione first met – and there’s an immediate spark. Photograph: Matt Murphy Then it comes to sorting and A

Where to find Melbourne’s best public artworks

Where to find Melbourne’s best public artworks

Public art is wonderfully accessible but also quite often devisive. Out in the open for all to see, it's common for public artworks to attract opinions from art critics right through to Joe Blow – and that's fantastic. As Australia's cultural capital, Melbourne is dotted with public artworks that add to our city aesthetically as well as explore deeper themes. We've rounded up our favourite public artworks and the stories behind them – and created a handy map so you can go out and spot them all. RECOMMENDED: Where to find the best street art in Melbourne.

Ten artworks at the NGV every Melburnian should see

Ten artworks at the NGV every Melburnian should see

Since it was founded in 1861, the National Gallery of Victoria has been busy amassing the best art from Australia and all across the world. Now, after a century and a half of collecting, the gallery has arguably the country's most significant collection of art, ranging from milestone European works from every major artistic movement to contemporary masterpieces by Australia's finest. We asked the NGV's curatorial team to pick ten works that Melburnians should familiarise themselves with, from across the collection's whole spectrum. You can see them at both of the gallery's major spaces: NGV International on St Kilda Road and NGV Australia at Federation Square. RECOMMENDED: The best art galleries in Melbourne.

Where to sit in Sydney’s theatres

Where to sit in Sydney’s theatres

If you’re the designated ticket-booker in your theatre-going party, you know how stressful it can be to pick the right seats. How far back can you sit and still make out an actor’s facial expressions? Will you end up with neck cramp if you sit in row B? Just how restricted is that ‘restricted view’ seat on the side? Will you feel like you’re in another postcode if you can only afford the back row? What even is the difference between the stalls and circle? (Hint: stalls are always downstairs – the upstairs balconies in a theatre are called the circle or the mezzanine). Over our many hours spent sitting and awing at dramas and comedies and one-woman experimental monologues, we’ve gathered plenty of intel on exactly where you want to be in our city’s most important theatres. Here are our tips, from the absolute best seats to the surprising bargains you can sometimes nab. RECOMMENDED: How to score cheap theatre tickets in Sydney. 

The best places to see drag shows in Sydney

The best places to see drag shows in Sydney

When visiting contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race perform in Sydney, they almost always put one question to their audience: do you support your local queens? Each of those bankable stars started out in a local drag scene like the one in Sydney, and without the support of local drag fans, they never would’ve reached those heights. So now that the city’s drag scene is thriving – and becoming more diverse by the minute – here’s our guide to the best places to go support local artistes. Looking for a fabulous night out? Check out the best queer pubs and clubs in Sydney and the city's best retro dancefloors. 

Here's what goes into bringing a hit musical like Disney's 'Frozen' to life

Here's what goes into bringing a hit musical like Disney's 'Frozen' to life

The world’s theatre industry has never seen a year like 2020. Broadway and London’s West End have been dark for eight months, with little indication as to when they might reopen. Dates for major musicals keep getting pushed back further and further as different parts of the world go in and out of lockdown. But there are signs of vibrant life down here in the southern hemisphere, with major shows due to open in Sydney including Pippin, Hamilton, and Disney’s family friendly juggernaut, Frozen. Based on the 2013 film about princesses Elsa (Jemma Rix, Wicked) and Anna (Courtney Monsma, Aladdin), sisters pulled apart by an apparent curse, it's an enormous show – both in terms of popularity and sheer scale.  Giant set pieces appear to transform from wood to ice, while a three-tonne video wall with 4.7 million LED pixels and 20,000 crystals conjures a spectacular ice palace. One dress features an extraordinary 44,154 stones and crystals. (If you’re familiar with the movie, you might be able to guess whose frock requires that much sparkle…) Lisa Dawn Cave, a veteran Broadway stage manager, is one of the people responsible for bringing Frozen to Sydney and is overjoyed to once again be doing what she loves – even if it does involve travelling to the other side of the world and spending two weeks in hotel quarantine. “Everybody’s excited to just be back in a rehearsal room,” she says. “The world is looking at Australia.” “Disney magic... What I will say is that it’s something that’s r

The top shows to see at Asia TOPA 2020

The top shows to see at Asia TOPA 2020

The Asia TOPA festival is a massive multi-venue festival of theatre, visual arts, dance and discussions from all over the Asia Pacific. It's returning for its second year in 2020 with a bigger and more provocative line-up of works taking place across the city. The best thing about Asia TOPA is the way it brings artists together from the region. In many instances, those artists are teamed up with some of Australia's leading performance-makers, who are creating something new and special for the festival. RECOMMENDED: How to score cheap theatre tickets in Melbourne.

Sydney Festival reviews

Sydney Festival reviews

Time Out's review team is out in force over the month of January, taking in all that Sydney Festival has to offer from January 8 to 26. But what shows and events are worth your time and money? Here are all our reviews: wild spiegeltent cabarets, big international acts, local gems, spectacular dance, avant-garde theatre and more. Recommended: The best shows in Sydney this month and how to score cheap tickets.

Choose your own summer arts adventure

Choose your own summer arts adventure

Summer in Sydney is prime time to get an arts fix, with Sydney Festival taking over the city for three weeks, blockbuster international exhibitions at our major galleries, and a stack of all-singing, all-dancing musicals. But what’s your personal arts flavour? We’re here to help you find your perfect match.

Lady Tabouli at Sydney Festival

Lady Tabouli at Sydney Festival

What do you do when the people you're closest to – who you rely on for just about everything – refuse to accept a fundamental truth about you? That's what happens to Danny, the central character in James Elazzi's comedy Lady Tabouli (Jan 9-18), which is having its world premiere as part of Sydney Festival thanks to the National Theatre of Parramatta. Danny lives with his strictly religious Lebanese mother and is preparing for his nephew's baptism. He's set to be godfather, but when he unexpectly calls his engagement off, things start to fall apart. The result is a funny and tough exploration of identity and a tricky clash of cultures. Award-winning director Dino Dimitriadis is at the helm of this production. We asked him a few questions about making queer theatre in and about Western Sydney, and why he chose to work with an emerging playwright on this project. 

Melbourne theatre and musicals in December

Melbourne theatre and musicals in December

Come one babe, why don't we paint the town? Chicago is about to make its triumphant return to Melbourne lead by Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Alinta Chidzey and Casey Donovan. As the year starts to wind down, there's still plenty of fab shows all around the city, from an alfresco Hamlet to stand-up shows from some of Australia's favourite comedians. Scroll on for a full account of what to see where this month on Melbourne's stages. Recommended: How to get cheap theatre tickets in Melbourne.

Sydney theatre in December

Sydney theatre in December

Sydney's year of theatre is wrapping with some high profile shows: Yael Stone and Noni Hazlehurst are bringing fireworks to the stage in STC's five-star The Beauty Queen of Leenane, while Belvoir is telling the story of a local dynasty in Packer & Sons. When it comes to musicals, it's all about precociously talented youngsters, with Billy Elliot and School of Rock both continuing their Sydney runs. Save some dollars, though: Sydney Festival has announced its January program, and our hit list of shows includes some must-see theatre and dance.

Listings and reviews (37)

Glebe Markets

Glebe Markets

You’ll find massive variety among the 200 stalls that take over Glebe Public School each Saturday morning, but it’s the fashion ones that attracts most visitors. There are rows upon rows of eccentric and colourful vintage clothes, alongside hand-crafted jewellery, accessories and new clothing designed by locals. There are vintage stalls scattered all around the market, but the smaller section just off Derby Lane at the back of the school is a goldmine and a slightly quieter place to scour through racks and try things on.  Even if you’re not searching for a new wardrobe, Glebe Markets is a great place to grab some lunch and relax on the school lawns where live musicians serenade the crowd from noon. The lane of food stalls – just opposite the lawn – has old market favourites and more high-end offerings: gözleme, kebabs, dumplings, fancy doughnuts, gluten-free baked goods and tandoori chicken wraps from the Madras Cuisine stall, which has been part of the markets for more than two decades. Best of all, you can get a freshly squeezed, made-to-order lemonade from the Citrus Factory. It’s mixed together in a cocktail shaker and you’re able to request a little more lemon or sugar, depending how sweet your tooth is. Want to market all day long? Hop, skip and jump over to Rozelle for some more treasures.

9 to 5 the Musical

9 to 5 the Musical

Dolly Parton's stage version of hit 1980 comedy 9 to 5 is coming to Arts Centre Melbourne this July, almost two years to the day that the production was originally due to premiere. The musical features an entire score of Dolly songs, including the landmark title track '9 to 5', and follows the plot of the film pretty closely: workmates Doralee (played by Parton in the film), Violet (originally Lily Tomlin) and Judy (Jane Fonda) have been pushed to the edge by a narcissistic boss. So they hatch an elaborate plan to extract their revenge, and hilarity ensues. The book is by Patricia Resnick, who penned the film. The local version is led by a fabulous cast of musical theatre veterans and rising stars: Marina Prior plays Violet with Erin Clare as Doralee and the inimitable Casey Donovan as Judy. Caroline O'Connor plays Roz, an administrative assistant desperately in love with her boss. The show opened on Broadway in 2009 and wasn't an enormous hit. But when it was reimagined for London's West End in 2019, it became an immediate smash, scoring rave reviews and extending its run multiple times.  Originally the production was slated to open July 2020 at Her Majesty's Theatre, but will now open July 10, 2022 at Arts Centre Melbourne's State Theatre. Tickets go on sale February 11.

The Marriage of Figaro

The Marriage of Figaro

With meticulous sets, costumes and lighting that make it look like something a Dutch master has painted, this Figaro is a visual treat. Mozart's scintillating score, composed in a whirlwind six weeks, is famous for its use of ensemble, with trios, quartets and even a sextet appearing throughout.  Based on the play by Beaumarchais, it’s a tale of love and lust across the class divides, with a philandering count trying to seduce his wife’s servant Susanna on her wedding day to the valet Figaro. Susanna will use disguises and tricks to fend him off, and shenanigans ensue. Susanna in this production is played by up-and-coming Melbourne star Stacey Alleaume, with Russian soprano Ekaterina Morozova as the Countess, Tommaso Barea as Figaro and Mario Cassi as the Count. Scottish opera maverick Sir David McVicar directed.   See what else is in the Opera Australia Summer Season. 

Turandot

Turandot

Director and choreographer Graeme Murphy's 1990 take on Turandot is one of Opera Australia's true evergreen productions. Almost three decades after its premiere, it still looks fabulous, driven by dance and an otherworldly design. The story concerns a beautiful and brutal princess who challenges suitors to answer three riddles – if they fail they are beheaded. Yonghoon Lee and Ivan Gyngazov will share the role of Calaf, the brave prince who sings Pavarotti’s greatest hit, ‘Nessun Dorma’, the incredible aria that expresses Calaf’s determination to win the princess's hand. Turandot is a huge undertaking: it requires a large orchestra to perform that includes 13 tuned Chinese gongs. See what else is in the Opera Australia Summer Season. 

Skyfall in Concert with the MSO

Skyfall in Concert with the MSO

Yep, they're doing the Adele one.  The British diva's soul-stirring, Academy Award-winning theme tune is probably the first thing you remember about Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, and for good reason. It harks back to the golden era of Bond, when Shirley Bassey was belting about men who love gold and reminding us that diamonds are forever. Plus, there's Adele's caramel-hued voice and a lush orchestral arrangement. While Adele won't be joining the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for this in-concert screening of the film, the orchestra will perform the number live to her recorded vocals. But that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the 2012 film, which was directed by Sam Mendes and is widely acknowledged as one of Bond's finest moments. It's a gripping espionage-adventure film with Daniel Craig in fine form and stellar supporting performances by Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw. And there's also one of Bond's most formidable opponents yet: a former agent turned cyberterrorist Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem. All the action is set to Thomas Newman's score, which made Skyfall one of only two Bond movies nominated for Best Original Score at the Academy Awards. Tickets will be on sale to the general public via Ticketek from 10am on November 3.

Miss First Nation 2021

Miss First Nation 2021

The fabulous Miss First Nation started in Sydney and was the subject of the award-winning film Black Divaz, receiving praise for its originality and the endless charisma of the contestants. The event has since moved to Melbourne, however, and is back in 2021 as part of the city's Midsumma and Yirramboi festivals. Miss First Nation is Australia's only national drag competition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performers, who represent areas from all over the country in categories including lip-sync, national costume and talent. This year, eight fine finalists will compete for the Miss First Nation crown over two heats held on two separate nights (May 4 and 5) before the showstopping grand final event on May 7.  This is one of Midsumma and Yirramboi's most popular events, so nab your tickets pronto if you don't want to be left out. 

Friends! The Musical Parody

Friends! The Musical Parody

If it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, you might want to consider spending some time with your favourite sextet. If you've recently binged every episode of Friends but are still craving some nourishment from Central Perk, here's the perfect opportunity. This musical parody of one of the world's favourite sitcoms is coming to Sydney after playing for almost a year in New York, and then around the US. All your favourite twenty-somethings will be on stage, as they try to negotiate life, love and work in New York in the 1990s.  The musical was penned by Bob and Tobly McSmith, who have a long track record of lovingly spoofing '90s TV shows, recreating TV's most memorable moments and creating soundtracks that bring something new to the stories we already know and love. And it goes without saying, but this is an unauthorised parody. 

Happy Place

Happy Place

If there's something we Sydneysiders could do with a decent dose of right now, it'd be pure, unadulterated joy. The Happy Place, a pop-up exhibit of boldly colourful, immersive environments had its Australian premiere on the rooftop of Broadway Sydney in March. Unfortunately, lockdown restrictions closed down the exhibit on March 17 – but fear not, because it's back from Friday, July 3. Taking place over 20,000 square feet, you can step inside the world's largest confetti dome, leap from a rainbow into a "pot of happiness" (aka a ball pit), take a dip into the bright yellow rubber ducky bathtub, hang around in an upside down room, and unlock your inner chocolate chip in the "cookie room", which smells just like a batch of freshly-baked cookies. What are the people behind Happy Place wanting to achieve? Well, they want you to be happy. And they want you to know it. So clap your god damn hands. Happy Place is the work of American entertainment manager Jared Paul, who produces tours for Dancing with the Stars and Glee. The installations have toured America and picked up a bunch of celebrity fans along the way, including Adele, Khloe Kardashian, JoJo Siwa, Kerry Washington and Hillary Duff. The pop-up exhibit is at Broadway until August 16, with sessions on most days. Physical distancing measures will be in place and staff will be dotted around the premises to guide you, while wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Enhanced cleaning measures will also be imposed, as well a

Buxton Contemporary

Buxton Contemporary

Update 19/03/20: Buxton Contemporary is temporarily closed to the public to control the spread of COVID-19. The gallery will reassess the situation in coming weeks. Located on the corner opposite the National Gallery of Victoria and Melbourne Theatre Company's Southbank Theatre, Buxton Contemporary is the home of Melbourne property developer and collector Michael Buxton's art collection. He’s got a great eye for contemporary Australasian art, and his first exhibition included work by Patricia Piccinini, Mikala Dwyer, Emily Floyd, Marco Fusinato and Shaun Gladwell. He's also collected work by luminaries like Howard Arkley, Mike Parr, Tracey Moffatt and Bill Henson. The 2,200 square metre gallery, which opened in March 2018, is designed by leading Australian architects Fender Katsalidis, the team behind Hobart's MONA. It features five large galleries and a teaching space, which is rather appropriate as the building is part of the University of Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts.

Sydney Dance Company: Bonachela / Forsythe

Sydney Dance Company: Bonachela / Forsythe

Our city's leading contemporary dance ensemble is back with a new triple bill of electrifying dance. Sydney Dance Company’s artistic director Rafael Bonachela is making a new work exploring the ephemeral nature of our work, set to a brand new score by Bryce Dessner from American band the National. His work will appear alongside choreographic legend William Forsythe’s ‘NNNN’, and ‘E2 7SD’, the work that launched Bonachela’s career back in 2004.

And Now

And Now

Billionaire art collector Judith Neilson’s Chippendale haven for Chinese art is continuing its tenth anniversary celebrations this year with a new exhibition of works collected over the course of the last decade. You’ll be able to walk through Zhu Jinshi’s ‘The Ship of Time’, a huge tunnel crafted from 14,000 sheets of xuan rice paper and 1,800 pieces of bamboo, and see Ai Weiwei’s former studio assistant Zhao Zhao’s ‘Constellations’, a confronting seven-panel silk embroidery. For film fans, there’s an acclaimed three-channel video installation by Liu Chuang, which brings found and filmed footage smashing together with recognisable cinematic references to explore what it means to be displaced and alienated.

Fiddler on the Roof (A Fidler afn Dakh)

Fiddler on the Roof (A Fidler afn Dakh)

NOTE: This performance has been cancelled due to current events.  Opera Australia has a long history of bringing classic musicals to local audiences, but generally they've been faithful and traditional productions (and in some cases literally 60-year-old productions). But Opera Australia is doing something a little different as part of its 2020 season: Fiddler on the Roof performed entirely in Yiddish. Don't worry, there'll still be English surtitles to guide you through, but this production goes for authenticity above all else. Directed by Oscar and Tony winner Joel Grey (still known best for playing the Emcee in Cabaret), it premiered in New York last year to rave reviews and is enjoyed a return season due to popular demand.  Casting is still to be confirmed for the Australian production, which will play Melbourne's Comedy Theatre from November 15.

News (309)

Pack your bags for this spectacular light and art festival in Alice Springs

Pack your bags for this spectacular light and art festival in Alice Springs

People usually visit Australia’s red centre for one of two reasons: to marvel at a place of extraordinary natural beauty, or to connect with the Indigenous cultures that have persisted for tens of thousands of years. But when you arrive in Alice Springs, it becomes immediately clear that these two aims aren’t so easily separated. This place is home to the world’s oldest living culture, and their stories, lives and legacies have been shaped by the country. And you can’t really understand that country without understanding some of those stories. That’s part of the purpose of Parrtjima, an annual festival of Aboriginal art and culture that lights up Alice Springs Desert Park with art installations and large-scale projections. This year, the festival will be illuminating the ancient canvas of the Macdonnell Ranges from April 8 to 17. Photograph: Supplied This year, the theme is 'Sky Country', and many of the installations will explore and acknowledge Australia's first scientists and astronomers and their relationship with the sky and universe.  Visit signature installations like 'Water Tree', a twinkling piece designed to replicate the natural phenomenon of budgerigars flocking together, and 'Night Sky' a 15-metre-high installation housing 1,200 illuminated orbs to look like a blanket of stars. Explore the full suite of projections and installations while listening to a live soundtrack provided by a line-up including Dan Sultan, King Stingray, Barkaa, Black Rock Band and Jimbla

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a gay love story don’t @ me

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a gay love story don’t @ me

Since it opened on London’s West End, audiences at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child have been encouraged to #KeepTheSecrets. It’s both a clever marketing strategy – making it clear that the show is full of magic, plot twists and secrets worth keeping – and a genuine desire to protect audience members from having the show’s biggest surprises revealed. But just like Moaning Myrtle – arguably the original messy bitch who lives for drama – we couldn’t keep a secret if our lives depended on it. So beware that this article contains spoilers. Not major spoilers, but if you want to go in as a completely blank slate, turn around right now. Because the biggest secret being kept inside the Princess Theatre is the secret love that the play’s two young protagonists – Albus Severus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy – have for one another. We are not the first people to notice this, and certainly weren’t the only ones talking about it at this weekend’s opening gala. This is the Potterverse relationship you’ll ship harder than Harry and Hermione (come on, you know Ron was a mistake). Here’s the basic premise of the play: Nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry and Ginny’s youngest son, Albus, is heading to Hogwarts. At the same time Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius, is hopping on the Hogwarts Express. The pair find themselves together in a cabin – the same place where Harry, Ron and Hermione first met – and there’s an immediate spark. Photograph: Matt Murphy Then it comes to sorting and A

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child's $40 ticket lottery is back

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child's $40 ticket lottery is back

Tickets for the Australian premiere season of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child have been flying out the Princess Theatre's door since they went on sale. So you're probably thinking you'll need to book months and months in advance to score the best seats in the house, right? That's generally true, but for those of us without the patience to wait half a year (and those of us who don't have ready access to a time turner), there's another way to get great tickets. The show's runs a digital ticket lottery, which allows fans to score tickets for just $40 per part (so $80 for the full, two-part epic). The program is known as "Friday Forty" and is modelled on the lottery run for both the West End and Broadway productions of the show. There will be a minimum of 40 tickets available through the lottery for each performance, and while you can't guarantee where those seats will be, producers are promising they're some of the best in the theatre. Our favourite thing about Friday Forty? It's a digital lottery, so you don't even have to line up at the theatre, and can enter every week from anywhere you've got an internet connection. Here's how it works: Entries are open from 12:01AM every Monday of the show's season until 1pm Friday. You can either enter at the official Cursed Child website or on the TodayTix app. The winners will be drawn at 1pm each Friday, and if you're lucky enough to be selected you can purchase up to two tickets to performances the following week. There's a maximum o

A new exhibition of more than 100 Matisse paintings is coming to Sydney

A new exhibition of more than 100 Matisse paintings is coming to Sydney

We've still got more than a year to wait, but the Art Gallery of NSW has just announced it will host the biggest exhibition of works by French master painter Henri Matisse ever seen in Australia. More than 100 artworks will be part of Matisse: Life & Spirit, Masterpieces From the Centre Pompidou, Paris, at the AGNSW from November 2020 to March 2021. The exhibition is part of the Sydney International Art Series, which this year includes the AGNSW's Japan Supernatural. Check out the best exhibitions in Sydney this month and take yourself on a tour of our city's most beautiful public art.

Here's how you can help rebuild Melbourne's beloved La Mama Theatre

Here's how you can help rebuild Melbourne's beloved La Mama Theatre

This weekend marks a year since Carlton's hugely influential La Mama Theatre was lost to a devastating fire. In the early hours of May 19, an electrical fire ripped through the former silk underwear factory, which had been operating as a theatre since 1967. To call it a blow to Melbourne's arts community is an understatement: David Williamson – Australia's most successful playwright – wrote his first full-length work for La Mama, and actors including Cate Blanchett and Graeme Blundell have appeared on its stage. But you can't keep a 50-year-old institution down, and La Mama is getting ready to rise from the ashes. In November last year the Victorian Government pledged $1 million towards La Mama's rebuild at the original Carlton site. Now the theatre needs your help to raise the final $1.25 million needed for the project. The plan is to rebuild the original building but also make improvements to ensure it's an accessible space. La Mama is also planning for a modest new building to act as a hub for independent artists. Architect Meg White, who has worked as a performer and designer at the theatre for more than 25 years, has today revealed the renders for her plan, which is designed to recapture the original intimate set-up and spirit of the theatre. Renders by Cottee Parker Architects. Renders by Cottee Parker Architects. La Mama is now asking for donations – of any size, of course – through its website, with a fundraising drive between now and June 30. If the funds are rai

How Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 musical tackles workplace sexism and horrible bosses

How Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 musical tackles workplace sexism and horrible bosses

It’s difficult to quantify the impact of 9 to 5. The 1980 comedy was Hollywood’s first explicitly feminist blockbuster, starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as office workers who join together to take revenge on their vile, sexist boss. Its enormous success at the box office proved there was an audience for stories led by complex women claiming their independence, paving the way for hits like Thelma and Louise and The First Wives Club. But despite that impact on cinematic history, what the film has to say about women in the workplace has lost none of its currency. Its message was heard around the world, but did it really sink in? “We think we got there, but then we kind of slipped,” says Marina Prior, who is taking on Tomlin’s role, Violet, in the Australian premiere season of 9 to 5 the Musical. “You think, ‘surely we should be living in a post-feminist society,’ but we’re not, because we’re still fighting for the same pay, the same value and intrinsic worth.” Erin Clare, who’ll be stepping into Parton’s shoes as Doralee, says the story takes on a different resonance following the #MeToo movement, which has seen more women speaking openly about workplace harassment than ever before. “When the film came out, it was almost like a farce,” she says. “It was like, ‘how amazing would it be if three women got together to take down their boss,’ and now that is happening, and it’s been happening for the last three years.” The stage version hews closely to the plot laid d

How Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 musical tackles workplace sexism and horrible bosses

How Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 musical tackles workplace sexism and horrible bosses

It’s difficult to quantify the impact of 9 to 5. The 1980 comedy was Hollywood’s first explicitly feminist blockbuster, starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as office workers who join together to take revenge on their vile, sexist boss. Its enormous success at the box office proved there was an audience for stories led by complex women claiming their independence, paving the way for hits like Thelma and Louise and The First Wives Club. But despite that impact on cinematic history, what the film has to say about women in the workplace has lost none of its currency. Its message was heard around the world, but did it really sink in? “We think we got there, but then we kind of slipped,” says Marina Prior, who is taking on Tomlin’s role, Violet, in the Australian premiere season of 9 to 5 the Musical. “You think, ‘surely we should be living in a post-feminist society,’ but we’re not, because we’re still fighting for the same pay, the same value and intrinsic worth.” Erin Clare, who’ll be stepping into Parton’s shoes as Doralee, says the story takes on a different resonance following the #MeToo movement, which has seen more women speaking openly about workplace harassment than ever before. “When the film came out, it was almost like a farce,” she says. “It was like, ‘how amazing would it be if three women got together to take down their boss,’ and now that is happening, and it’s been happening for the last three years.” The stage version hews closely to the plot laid d

Broadway's hit 9/11 musical is coming to Sydney at the perfect time

Broadway's hit 9/11 musical is coming to Sydney at the perfect time

Every time there’s an enormous tragedy – when a large loss of life reverberates loudly around the world – stories of humans responding to extreme circumstances flow thick and fast. Some are horrifying, but we all know that there are others that are affirming. To look for acts of kindness and generosity is about the best many of us can do in times of crisis. One of those affirming stories unfolded in Gander, Newfoundland in the days after the September 11 attacks. The punishingly cold Canadian town had a population of around 9,000 at the time, but when planes were suddenly grounded at the town’s airport following the attacks, 7,000 strangers found themselves stranded for up to six days. But instead of reacting to those strangers with fear or suspicion – and it was a time of enormous fear around the world – the locals warmly embraced them and welcomed them into their homes. Canadian musical theatre writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein were intrigued by this story and in 2011 – on the tenth anniversary of the attacks – visited Gander to interview both locals and returning passengers about their experiences. Photograph: Jeff Busby. “We didn’t know what we were looking for when we went out there, and most people there doing interviews were press, looking for the quick soundbites,” Sankoff says. “We just started talking to people, going to their houses for dinner, and getting invited to spend the night there. We fell in love with them and what they did; and how brave it was to n

Giant Dwarf Theatre is being forced to relocate

Giant Dwarf Theatre is being forced to relocate

It's hard to believe it was only six years ago that Nikita Agzarian and Julian Morrow opened Giant Dwarf Theatre in Redfern. The venue at 199 Cleveland Street has become one of our city's most important live comedy and music institutions in that short period of time – to the point that it sort of feels like it's always been there, providing opportunities for creatives to develop popular new formats (like Maeve Marsden's Queerstories, and Ben Jenkins and Zoë Norton Lodge's Story Club) and big-name performers (hello Tim Minchin) to play in a more intimate venue. But Agzarian and Morrow have today announced Giant Dwarf Theatre's final show will take place on March 7, 2020. Their reason? An age-old Sydney story: they say rent hikes have made the theatre unviable in its current location. Since its opening, the pair say their rent has increased by 40 per cent. They say their landlord is now insisting on another rent hike of 35 per cent and, despite generous donations from supporters and $80,000 raised for improvements to the Redfern building, they're unable to cover that cost. The final show, appropriately called March Final Show, will feature Giant Dwarf favourites including Becky Lucas, Benjamin Law, Cam James, Ben Jenkins, Alex Lee, Nakkiah Lui, Carlo Ritchie, Montaigne, Freudian Nip and Kate Mulvany. We imagine those tickets will be snapped up pretty quickly, so keep an eye on Giant Dwarf's website for booking details. The good news is that Agzarian and Morrow still intend on o

Things you only know if you're a stage manager

Things you only know if you're a stage manager

... according to Alex Duffy, the stage manager behind Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. A stage manager is responsible for making sure everything you see and hear happens each night – and on time. “We are the ones that deliver the production and help coordinate it for every performance. We’re a team of eight and we work with the resident creatives, the nine technical departments and the cast to keep the show looking really fresh. We schedule the company and we make sure that everyone works collaboratively together… A big part of the stage management role is to ‘call’ the production; we call all the cues that make things happen on stage so things look crisp and precise, like magic is happening before your eyes.” A two-part show like Cursed Child has a lot of cues. “The way the show has been programmed, there are 2,692 lighting changes, and we call 600 of those. There’s 15,221 sound cues, and 552 of those are called. For [scenery] automation, there are 237 moves.” And it takes a lot of rehearsal to ensure Harry Potter-worthy magic happens. “We rehearse as much as the cast do. They need to rehearse to get their performances well rounded, and we need to rehearse to finesse the cueing of the show to make sure it works really cleanly. We rehearsed for five months before we opened… Everything is called to within a millisecond so there’s consistency across the show. A lot of our cues for the magic are taken visually; so we can see when the sweet spot is, in that particular magic mom

The Opera House’s biggest venue is closing for a huge two-year renovation

The Opera House’s biggest venue is closing for a huge two-year renovation

It’s been almost five decades since the Sydney Opera House opened to the public, and since then everybody has voiced an opinion on our city’s shimmering jewel. It’s widely regarded as one of the most beautiful buildings of the 20th century, but there have been plenty of complaints about the functionality of some of its key spaces. The Concert Hall, which was originally intended to be a more versatile theatre for opera, has come under fire for its acoustics more than anything – in 2014, actor John Malkovich said the venue had “acoustics that would do an aeroplane hangar a disservice”. Ouch. Now, 47 years after opening, the Opera House is putting its money where its mouth is, with a major upgrade designed to improve its acoustics and the versatility of the space. It’s the biggest part of the Opera House’s renewal project, which will cost just shy of $300 million to improve and future-proof the building. The Joan Sutherland Theatre has already been given a facelift, but the Concert Hall will be closing from the start of February for the project. The current timeline will have the venue closed for at least 18 months, and potentially up to two years. But the Opera House’s head of contemporary music, Ben Marshall, is keen to remind audiences that the venue is still open.  “There are six other internal venues unaffected by the Concert Hall renewal,” he says. “Every major performance venue needs to close from time to time to undertake upgrades, and it’s no different for us.” So what’

Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 musical is heading to Melbourne

Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 musical is heading to Melbourne

Tumble out of bed and stumble to the theatre: Dolly Parton's stage version of hit 1980 comedy 9 to 5 is coming to Melbourne's Her Majesty's Theatre from July this year, after having its Australian premiere in Sydney. The musical features an entire score of Dolly songs, including the landmark title track '9 to 5', and follows the plot of the film pretty closely: workmates Doralee (played by Parton in the film), Violet (originally Lily Tomlin) and Judy (Jane Fonda) have been pushed to the edge by a narcissistic boss. So they hatch an elaborate plan to extract their revenge, and hilarity ensues. The book is by Patricia Resnick, who penned the film. The local version is led by a fabulous cast of musical theatre veterans and rising stars: Marina Prior plays Violet with Erin Clare as Doralee and Samantha Dodemaide as Judy. Caroline O'Connor plays Roz, an administrative assistant desperately in love with her boss. The show opened on Broadway in 2009 and wasn't an enormous hit. But when it was reimagined for London's West End last year, it became an immediate smash, scoring rave reviews and extending its run multiple times. That's the production Melbourne audiences will get to see. Tickets to the Melbourne season of 9 to 5 go on sale on February 14 at 9to5themusical.com.au. Melbourne's theatres are packed to the rafters with musicals. Here's every major show coming your way.